Since late August, a chain of natural disasters, some record-breaking, have devastated communities around the world. Everywhere, people have been coming together to send aid to those impacted by the unexpectedly brutal weather.
Each school year, the Student Peace Institute organizes a fall peace week and a spring peace week to raise awareness about natural disasters and to fundraise for its victims. It also highlights the the “unsung heroes,” including the brave first responders. During fall peace week, September 25-29, Student Peace Institute members started a disaster relief effort called “Raiders for Relief.” They directed their efforts towards the victims of hurricane Harvey in Texas, hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean, the earthquakes in Mexico, and the severe flooding in East Asia (India, Nepal, and Bangladesh).
“We wanted to encourage the student body to give back to people who do so much in a time when they don’t have a lot,” said Brooke Bolton ‘19, one of five officers of the Student Peace Institute.
As peace week drew closer, Institute members facilitated three days of chapel talks to Upper School students that featured the heroes from hurricane Harvey and the earthquakes in Mexico. Additionally, Lower School students collected coins during Homecoming week, and raised over $1,000. When peace week happened the following week, club members coordinated several interactive events, including letter writing to first responders during a lunch and a monetary donation collection in Upper School students in homeroom.
The Student Peace Institute will send the letters and proceeds from the peace week to the first responders in either Florida or Texas, and to other locations. Lower School and Upper School student donations will be sent to Unicef USA, where the relief money will be distributed to those in affected areas.
For many students such as Brooke, these natural disasters hit close to home.
“I’ve been talking to my family in Florida and Texas and they’ve been helping their neighbors too,” said Bolton. “For me, the most rewarding part of this is just knowing that people in need are getting supplies from something that we organized and got people involved with.”
Even though the fall peace week is over, the Student Peace Institute members’ efforts are not over yet. In November, they will hold an event for the anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall (November 9), and in December an activity for Human Rights Day (December 10).
“There are always opportunities in which to get involved and to make a contribution to one’s community,” said Trinity Myers ‘19. “The Student Peace Institute is one of those opportunities. I believe that in the end, every bit of effort makes a difference, no matter how big or small.”